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How to Take Breaks at Work and Enjoy Them

Portrait of pretty cheerful woman taking a break from work looking away sitting at desk.

Sometimes it’s hard to justify a few minutes’ break from work, let alone taking your full lunch hour. But this way of working isn’t sustainable. You physically and mentally can’t work 100% of the time at 100% capacity. You need to take breaks at work to recharge and boost your productivity and focus. When you work hard, it’s important to take regular breaks to rev up your energy and keep the stresses of life in check.

Self Care: Why You Need to Take Breaks at Work

When you take work breaks, you’re not slacking or shirking responsibly; you’re simply taking care of yourself. Research from Stanford University shows that taking walking breaks has a positive effect on creative thinking.

7 Signs You Work Too Much and Need a Break

It’s easy to think that if you shut out all distractions and focus on a task until it’s complete, that you’re increasing productivity. But prolonged attention can actually hinder your performance as you begin to lose focus. 

Taking breaks from work can help reduce stress so you can be more productive. Your break time can be just a few minutes or a whole weekend of downtime. It’s important to give yourself the opportunity to shut off your mind. The best way to do this is to schedule relaxation time in your diary. Even a minute-long break can help you stop feeling overwhelmed and boost productivity. Your break should distract you so that you can recharge your focus and power through your to-do list more effectively. 

One way to boost productivity is by setting a good foundation for work. Some organized office desk ideas include having designated areas, managing all your papers, and scheduling everything. Electronic calendars organize your mind and your desk while keeping you accountable to your commitments. 

Taking a Break From Work: Six Things You Can Do

If you struggle to take breaks from work and really enjoy yourself, here are six things you can do to switch up your downtime and take care of yourself. 

Find a Hobby

Hobbies force you to take time for yourself. Many people struggle to set time aside for self-care. Finding a new hobby can give you an outlet to declutter your mind and focus on the moment. Whatever you choose to do, pick something you enjoy and use the time to switch off from work. It’s not about being perfect, so there’s no need to berate yourself for not being good at your new hobby. Hobbies like photography, reading, yoga, hiking, or painting are a great place to start.

Woman taking a break at work while reading.
Whatever You Choose To Do, Pick Something You Enjoy And Use The Time To Switch Off From Work (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Turn Off Your Devices

Between work, social media, and downtime, American adults spend more than eleven hours per day interacting with media. Whether it’s watching, reading, listening, or working, the majority of people stare at a screen for hours each day. Anyone who has spent the day staring into their computer knows that your eyes start to feel the strain pretty early on. When you take a break from work, try and turn off your devices and have a proper screen detox. It’s easy to fall into the habit of checking your phone for updates every few minutes but fight that urge. Even if you take a five-minute digital detox, you can put your focus elsewhere and take time to reflect.

Practice Meditation

Practice mindfulness or meditation to lower stress levels and feel re-energized. A work environment can be a breeding ground for stress, burnout, and anxiety. By finding ways to take a break, you can step back and find a new focus. Schedule meditation in your calendar, and be strict with yourself. It’s easy to push out self-care time, but it will make you feel better in the long-term. You can practice meditation using apps like Headspace and Calm or find group meditation sessions.

Businesswoman meditating at office desk with eyes closed.
Schedule Meditation In Your Calendar, And Be Strict With Yourself (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Get Moving

Physical activity gets your blood pumping and helps you to think more clearly. Just taking a long stretch at your desk can make you feel good. If you’re an early riser, a morning routine with exercise and a quick meditation session can help set you up for the day. You also have the option to get in a run during your lunch to boost your afternoon productivity. Whatever works for you, you can benefit even more from your work break when you sneak movement into your day. 

Escape to the Great Outdoors

Spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week is linked to good health and well-being. There are strong links between being in nature and increased concentration and better performance. Pencil in a daily lunchtime walk in the great outdoors. Getting outside and taking a walk can help improve your problem-solving abilities while soaking up some vitamin D. It also forces you to step away from the screen and be present in the moment. You can even use the time to meet up with a friend for a nature walk during your break.

Colleagues smiling and talking while walking together on the grounds of an office complex.
Getting Outside And taking a walk can help improve your problem-solving abilities while soaking up some vitamin D (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Enjoy Your Break!

Finally, try to enjoy your time off. Whether it’s a few minutes or a few days, take the time to relax. You don’t want to return to the office more sluggish than when you left. Although it’s easy to think of the work you have left to do, it’s essential that you try to distract yourself with the present. That way, you can return to work feeling revitalized and ready to tackle any new challenges. 

Recharge and Refocus with Regular Breaks

If you don’t actively schedule work breaks, sometimes the workday can finish and you haven’t left your desk at all. Take regular work breaks throughout the day, and use any days off to your full advantage. If you’re feeling a lack of energy, motivation, and productivity, your body is telling you that you need to take a break. By taking care of yourself, finding a new hobby, or getting outside each day, you can manage stress levels and refocus your energy.